How Fungi Could Help Replenish Forests After Logging

The small community that lives on Cortes Island, a remote and richly forested spot off the British Columbia coast, is known for fiercely protecting its trees. It's been successful in the past at fending off big timber companies, yet Cortes still hasn't been entirely spared the chainsaw. Just like the rest of the province, clearcuts are scattered about the island in various states of partial regrowth. Only isolated groves of old growth trees remain.

Cortes has a way of attracting some of the top eco-intellectuals in the world. Some have set about to heal these wounds by purchasing clear-cut lands and attempting to restore them.

One of the biggest names on the island is mycologist Paul Stamets, who is best known for deploying fungi to clean up humanity's worst messes. He has been coming to Cortes from his home in Washington State since 1988 to teach workshops on mushroom cultivation and foraging. In the early 2000s, he bought 160 acres of land on Cortes—90 acres of intact forest and 70 acres that had been clear-cut.

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